Mexican custom injection molder and assembler Plasticus SA de CV plans in 1997 to nearly double its plant size, add five large presses and enlarge its employment rolls beyond 700. ``We're awaiting a business decision by one of our customers to finalize the timing of the expansion,'' said Stuart Friend, recently appointed chief operating officer of the operation in Mexicali.
Using 32 presses with clamping forces of 25-300 tons, Plasticus molds and assembles professional broadcast-type videocassette cases, heart catheters and other medical devices, compact-disc jewel boxes, album boxes, security devices and consumer-tool cases. Within two months, the operation will install three additional presses, two of 400 tons and one of 500 tons.
On its 6.5-acre site, Plasticus occupies a 110,000-square-feet facility and expects to add 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space next year. At that time, the operation would add three more 500-ton presses and one each at 600 and 700 tons.
Plasticus employs 540, up from about 390 a year ago. Friend said he expects employment to ex-ceed 700 ``when we're through with the expansion.''
Friend, 54, joined Plasticus in early April after 30 years with the St. Paul, Minn.-based Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., most recently as global manufacturing operations manager for the magnetic media group.
He has extensive experience in setting up 3M injection molding and assembly operations in the United States, Asia and Latin America. He has relocated with his wife to live in Mexicali.
Plasticus conducts 90 percent of its business with companies north of the U.S.-Mexico border, Friend said, and is a unit of the Mexico City-based holding company Union de Capitales. Other operations of publicly listed UNICA manufacture commercial and consumer products.
``The ownership determined that Plasticus should be managed like a U.S. company,'' said Friend, who is implementing a strategic plan that emphasizes custom injection molding and full-service capabilities.